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AOA Federal Keypersons mobilize as first recess of 113th Congress begins

March 22, 2013

Hundreds of AOA Federal Keypersons are now making plans to meet locally with their elected representatives in the coming days as part of an organized effort to help advance AOA’s pro-patient, pro-access agenda and build greater levels of support for optometry’s top federal issues.

For the next two weeks, members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will be back in their home communities for the first recess of the 113th Congress – providing optometry’s grassroots network with an important opportunity to build new support for AOA-backed legislation and other issues of importance to the profession.

Thanks to the past efforts of hundreds of AOA doctor and student advocates, both the National Health Service Corps Improvement Act (H.R. 920) and the Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act (H.R. 855) have been introduced into the new Congress with broad bipartisan support; though the bills will need a growing number of backers to become a priority for the 113th Congress.

Sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), H.R. 920 aims to bring doctors of optometry into more underserved urban and rural communities by ending the misguided exclusion of optometrists from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) student loan repayment and scholarship programs.

H.R. 855 seeks to avert a potential crisis in access to primary eye care for Medicaid patients by amending the federal Medicaid statute to fully recognize optometrists. The AOA-backed legislation is sponsored by Reps. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

An integral part of the AOA’s legislative strategy, the AOA Federal Keyperson Program is an important and direct link to key decision makers in the nation’s capital. AOA members willing to serve as a Keyperson and those seeking additional information about the Keyperson Program should contact the AOA at 800-365-2219 or ImpactWashingtonDC@aoa.org.

AOA members looking to help build support for AOA’s priority issues in an alternate capacity may do so through the AOA’s Online Legislative Action Center. When on the site, AOA members are encouraged to read more about the optometry-specific pieces of legislation and then click “Take Action” to send an electronic letter to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor H.R. 855 and H.R. 920.

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